Closing the Gender Digital Divide

On average, women are 14% less likely to own a mobile phone than men

A whopping 200 million fewer women than men have access to a mobile phone in the developing world. That means they don't own one or can't borrow one.

Why is this important? Digital technology can give women access to financial tools to save for their families' future, earn a higher income and prepare for unforeseen circumstances. 

Yet, it can be challenging to overcome the cultural and technical barriers that often inhibit women from using digital-based financial services.

This past summer, we tackled these challenges with a team of Bankers with Borders® volunteers. The team of eight employees from Capco, a global financial consulting firm, spent five months researching the needs of poor women in Colombia, India, Ghana, Kenya, Philippines, and Uganda - and what’s available to them.

Gracie Hollis, one of the volunteer leaders, first learned about microfinance while studying at the University of Virginia and had been looking for the ideal opportunity to marry her interest and her skills. 

Looking back at the assignment, she said, "I was thrilled to be part of a team researching solutions for the digital gender divide, which was personally meaningful for me as I am passionate about women's economic development."

The insights that the volunteers generated will be used to further deepen our work to close the digital gender divide, and provide poor women with digital financial services solutions.

Lisa Kienzle, Grameen Foundation's global director of financial services, commended the volunteers: "The Capco volunteers were sharp, collaborative and committed to their engagement. I was impressed by their professional approach and genuine interest in pushing our understanding of ways to serve poor women with digital financial services solutions."

Since 2008, 22,000 Bankers without Borders volunteers from 173 countries have worked with more than 210 social enterprises around the world.